We're all aware of the modern phenomenon that is the rise of the mega church. Click here for a prime example. We also have seen many Christians moving toward smaller groupings. This usually takes some form of simple/organic/house church life.
As groups become either bigger or smaller, it is the congregational size churches that either are or will be facing great challenges. These churches typically run 100-300 people. As time goes on and folks leave congregational churches for either much bigger or much smaller groups, the 100-300 size church will gradually die out. This is not to say that these medium size churches will no longer exist, but that they will no longer be the dominant model of church life.
(As an aside, I write from an American perspective here. I admit to ignorance when it comes to what is happening in the church in other countries. If you reside in another part of the world, I'd love to hear what is occurring where you are.)
These size changes lead to a question for us: How can we in small churches work with those in large churches to make disciples?
It is painfully obvious for all involved that those of us in simple church life reject almost all of the shenanigans that go on in the mega church. However, there are many Christians in mega churches who want to make disciples just as much as we do. Therefore, we have a challenge of working with them while at the same time not working under the constraints of their large institutional framework. How can we do this?
First, we must always remember that it is Jesus Christ who unites us, not our view of the church. This is a great challenge since our understanding of the church is so different from that of most Christians in the institution. Since our unity is in Christ, we must look to His call for unity in His church. Unity has no loopholes.
Second, we must avoid the trap of isolating ourselves from believers in mega churches. If we know other Christians in the workplace, neighborhood, etc., let's see how we can work together instead of avoiding them.
Third, one of the positives of the rise of the mega church is the corresponding rise of the small group. Mega churches, at least to some degree, understand that community is necessary in the body. This cannot come through their large gatherings, so they have small groups of one type or another. Some of these groups function somewhat like simple churches. We can draw on these commonalities as we work together.
Fourth, working together to make disciples can often be a simple process. Much can be done in homes or coffee shops. The mega church institution does not even have to be involved. Staying away from the mega church structure is not as difficult as it may seem.
Finally, we must remember that disciple making is the mission of the church. We cannot push it to the back burner. Additionally, Jesus did not tell His followers to only work together with those they agreed with on church issues. They were all to come together for the cause of the Great Commission. By extension, we have this same commission. We must find ways to work with those in mega churches to make disciples.
As church size continues to change in this country, we need to be ready to work with our brothers and sisters in mega churches. This does not require us to accept all they believe about church. However, it does require us to focus on unity and find ways to come together despite our obvious differences.